After revealing our rewards during the past several days, the grandaddy of them all has finally come. That’s right, it’s the end of the road folks and time for us to award our greatest honor: Game of the Year. Both the nominees and winner were not taken lightly, having to exemplify the best of gaming to be named. It was a hard-fought battle, but without further adieu, here’s our top 10 games:
Team Ninja really hit it out of the park this year. While they’re primarily known for fast-paced character action games and bodacious fighters, the studio perfectly altered things for a post-Dark Souls world. It may be similar to Dark Souls in its formula, but it’s actually far more original than it appears. Taking down monsters from Japanese folklore, William as a character isn’t the biggest draw to the game, but his real-life encounters with Japanese figures puts an interesting twist on the blend of fiction and history. It’s the absolutely disturbing yet overly beautiful world of mysticism that is portrayed in Nioh that will enrapture players as they go through this surprisingly lengthy RPG. Team Ninja has done wonders to bring this world to life and create a highly enjoyable and challenging experience, one that is only benefited from an easy to use coop system. While FromSoftware has a grasp on dark fantasy and Victorian inspired adventures, Team Ninja portrays eastern mythology to a tee, making it one of the best games released this year.
January is not a month that most point to as the one for prominent video game releases, but Capcom managed to kick off 2017 with one of the year’s most memorable titles. Featuring a return to the storied franchise’s classic roots of haunted locations and limited ammo, Resident Evil 7 takes players inside the Baker mansion as Ethan Winters attempts to track down his wife and survive the horrors that lay within. With each member of the Baker family being more terrifying than the last, players must overcome intense close-quarters combat, clever puzzles and chilling stealth sequences all from a series-first first-person perspective. With an even more frightening VR capability and several pieces of solid DLC released throughout the year, Resident Evil 7 has managed to remain one of the year’s most chilling adventures eleven months later, while also bringing new life to a multi-decade old franchise
Upon hearing about Mario and Rabbids crossover, the initial and understandable reaction was confusion, but after logging in some playing time it became clear this was one of the year’s best offerings. The Rabbids cosplaying as popular Mario characters exude cuteness in their own demented way while the depiction of the Mushroom Kingdom being taken over by these mischievous critters created a unique gaming environment that was pleasing to Mario and Rabbids fans alike. Its slapstick humor is a nod to classic animated cartoons, but beneath all the silliness is a deep and complex tactics driven battle system. This isn’t a traditional Mario game by any means, but the development team went to great lengths to ensure that its quality would be on par with what fans have come to expect from this mustachioed plumber.
Divinity: Original Sin is a tough act to follow and it’s not unheard of for a sequel to be a great game but still pale in the shadow of its predecessor. This is not the case with Divinity: Original Sin II, which managed to improve just about everything. Divinity: Original Sin II blends a compelling story with open ended freedom, allowing the player to approach the game in any manner they see fit and can still complete the story. The player can use a peaceful approach to problem solving or they could simply kill everyone they encounter. Difficult battles can be addressed through unorthodox means, such as getting creative with the teleportation spell. Besides total freedom, what makes it great is how much polish was put into the branching dialog, individual character back stories and well balanced tactical combat all within an enthralling world. Divinity: Original Sin II can provide hundreds of hours of enjoyment just through exploring and experimenting with different decisions and actions. This is not just one of the best RPGs of 2017 but one of best ever made and should not be missed by any RPG fan.
Before people even new its name and it was simply a teaser in the Switch trailer, people wanted to get their hands on the next Mario title shown off. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint and Nintendo reinvented Mario once again in a brand new 3D setting. With a slew of new abilities from hat throwing to possession, Mario was in his top form as his made is way through the many kingdoms to stop Bowser in this fresh new take on the classics. While it has a very apparent nostalgic feeling along the way, it feels like a celebration of Mario’s legacy leading up to his greatest journey yet. Mario has stood the test of time as one of gaming’s most iconic characters, and considering how wonderful Super Mario Odyssey truly is, he will likely continue to do so in future titles to come.
It’s not every year we get a new Zelda title, let alone one that manages to completely reinvent the series as we know it. Breath of the Wild managed to create a wonderful new experience, both as an open-world game and one that took Zelda back to its adventurous roots. From the moment Link awoke he was given freedom to explore ever inch of the world, and of course journey to save Hyrule and Princess Zelda. It offered new challenges and true freedom to travel to uncover every last hidden secret in a world on the brink of disaster from Calamity Ganon. Although familiar in so many ways, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild created a truly special time by making every single moment feel completely new in the wonderfully crafted world of Hyrule once more.
Guerrilla Games had a lot to accomplish with Horizon Zero Dawn. Known only for their Killzone games, Guerrilla needed a hit to be more than just the Killzone studio. Well, they did it. Horzion Zero Dawn is an open-world masterpiece that nails its story, characters, gameplay and visuals. Beautifully-crafted and immensely-intriguing, Horizon sucks you into its world and dares you to let go as it slowly feeds you information about Aloy and the world she lives in. Excellent third-person shooting pits players against giant Machines in epic battles for survival, all while the story is delivered through excellent performances. Aloy, brought to life by Ashley Burch, brings players into this strange and unique world through her charisma and determination. Taking full advantage of the PS4 and PS4 Pro, Horizon Zero Dawn is as good to look at as it is to play thanks to a stunning technical presentation from the Decima Engine. Horizon Zero Dawn executes gameplay, visuals, story and character almost perfectly, making it one of the best games of 2017.
When people look back, specifically, on independent/AA studios in ten maybe twenty years time, Cuphead will be one of the first (perhaps only) games they’ll highlight to prove just how valuable and treasured this section of the industry has become. What Studio MDHR brought us in 2017 was a game that lavished in its own nostalgic bliss but somehow still came across refreshingly new and unique all at the same time. It’s a game that calls back to the time of NES/SNES-era, anger-induced flinging of one’s controller — its reward being even more of that same agonizing-but-rewarding, run-and-gun platforming that is its core gameplay loop. But the ways in which it continuously ramps up the challenge, adding even more inventive and perilous elements along the way, proved Cuphead’s clearer intent on providing us a game whose moment-to-moment gameplay and eye-boggling set-pieces are just as memorable on their own as they are part of a momentous whole. Cuphead is one of the few games as of late that succeeds on all parts: gameplay, visuals, music and all-round design. One that will easily stand out from the crowd, Studio MDHR’s debut is a master-class on leaving a solid first impression.
We all knew Persona 5 would be good, but in a year filled with absolute masterpieces, Atlus’ gem stood out. With a lengthy campaign of collecting horrific creatures during the evening and high school socializing during the day, Persona 5 has enough content to last an entire year. The story does have a lot of similar beats compared to its predecessors, but considering how fascinating they were, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It helps that the campaign has some of the most compelling and intriguing characters, both main and supporting. You’ll get to interact with them, know them and love them in a way no other game is capable of doing. It helps Atlus has stuck to its routes and created an addictive turn-based system that will consistently have you organizing a team to better suit the battle setting put forth in front of you. Finally, this is also one of the most stylish games released in a long time, with a lot of its aesthetic coming to life through its menus, cutscenes and general gameplay. Just the overall flow of the game is exponential. In the end, Persona 5 is one of those games you’ll never forget.
2017 may very well go down as one of the best years for video games in recent memory, with the first half alone producing several amazing contenders for the year’s top honors. But out of the numerous contenders, only one could reach the top of the podium and it ended up being NieR: Automata. What can we say that already hasn’t been praised throughout all of these awards? The combat is incredible and just plain fun, the story is engrossing and thought-provoking, the characters are memorable, the soundtrack is a delight for the ears, the boss battles are some of Platinum Games’ best yet…we could go on for quite a while. And we would, but as mentioned earlier with 9S, the greatest moments in NieR: Automata tend to venture into spoiler territory.
Without going into detail, though, you’ll come across one of the most gut-wrenching moral choices in recent video game history, a boss battle that leads to one of coolest meta moments in the medium (if you play your cards right) and even one of the most brilliantly-devised odes to Shakespeare ever conceived. And that’s not even including secrets such as going after all of the hidden endings (you seriously won’t believe just what can actually kill androids). It’s just one of those games full of so many amazing, cool little touches and details. Getting the fullest experience here requires three playthroughs and yet every single one is rewarding and amazing in its own different way. Easily the year’s most captivating experience in gaming, Yoko Taro can now hold his newly-gained gold medal up high thanks to NieR: Automata.